Ice Axe Length.....

3:09 p.m. on June 12, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

I've heard a lot of different stories on how to properly determine the correct length of an ice axe. So what's the best way to tell? The most common method of measuring that I've heard is to measure the distance from your palm to the floor, with your arm/hand hanging down to your side. Is this an accurate measurement? I've done this, and from the middle of my palm to the floor is about 83 centimeters. So, what size axe would be best for a measurement such as this? Freedom of the Hills states that an axe in the range of 60-70 centimeters is considered an "all-purpose" size. What do you think? My main usage plans for the axe will be basic snow travel on moderate mtns, such as in the Pacific Northwest. Please help me out with some suggestions on this subject.....

4:36 p.m. on June 12, 2001 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
409 forum posts
Depends on yer use...

Quote:

I've heard a lot of different stories on how to properly determine the correct length of an ice axe. So what's the best way to tell?

If for general mountaineering ie ski pole, then go longer. If for technical, then go shorter.

I don't find much more than a 50cm useful. Otherwise, I use a ski pole (ie a whippet) with an self arrest pick built in. But...if I went sans ski pole on easy to moderate terrain, I think a 60cm would be plenty plenty. I'm 6'1".

If mostly for a walker, then measure as you've described.

Brian in SLC

5:32 p.m. on June 12, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Re: Depends on yer use...

Quote:

Quote:

I've heard a lot of different stories on how to properly determine the correct length of an ice axe. So what's the best way to tell?

If for general mountaineering ie ski pole, then go longer. If for technical, then go shorter.

I don't find much more than a 50cm useful. Otherwise, I use a ski pole (ie a whippet) with an self arrest pick built in. But...if I went sans ski pole on easy to moderate terrain, I think a 60cm would be plenty plenty. I'm 6'1".

If mostly for a walker, then measure as you've described.

Brian in SLC

I'll throw in another view...
I like a longer axe. I already have 2 50cm technical tools so when I use an alpine axe I use it as such.
My last axe was 75cm. I loved that length. Perfect for walking, great for plunging into snow for self belay.
When the going gets steeper the longer axe was a bit unwieldy, on say a 50+ degree slope I found I had to work a bit harder to lift it up and out, but the security it provided was worth it. Bent the pick on it last week (it needed replacement anyway - ancient MSR) and used a friend's 60-65ish. Really appreciated the longer reach it gave me when paired up w. my alpine axe to get through some more technical WI sections.
So, once again, its preference..
Do a search through Google on rec.climbing and you will find tons of info.

Would trust a whippet anytime. If you really need to self arrest, you'll want an real axe. I understand that sking w. an axe is a no go (folks have rigged them to their poles though), but luckily my tele skills don't surpass 35 or so degrees ;?)

FWIW, my axe is like my best friend and I looked long and hard to find a replacement. Didn't like anything available domestically (especially that ferrule on the Air Tech! What were they thinking!).
Ended up getting one from Scotland.

Good luck.
Cheers,
Christian :?)
"5'9" 65cm"

7:50 p.m. on June 12, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Like Christian, I'm 5'9" and use a 65 cm ax. 70 was too much and 60 didn't feel comfortable to me.

9:07 a.m. on June 13, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Air Tech

What were you referring to on the Air Tech Axe? I've been considering this axe?

 


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

I've heard a lot of different stories on how to properly determine the correct length of an ice axe. So what's the best way to tell?

If for general mountaineering ie ski pole, then go longer. If for technical, then go shorter.

I don't find much more than a 50cm useful. Otherwise, I use a ski pole (ie a whippet) with an self arrest pick built in. But...if I went sans ski pole on easy to moderate terrain, I think a 60cm would be plenty plenty. I'm 6'1".

If mostly for a walker, then measure as you've described.

Brian in SLC

I'll throw in another view...
I like a longer axe. I already have 2 50cm technical tools so when I use an alpine axe I use it as such.
My last axe was 75cm. I loved that length. Perfect for walking, great for plunging into snow for self belay.
When the going gets steeper the longer axe was a bit unwieldy, on say a 50+ degree slope I found I had to work a bit harder to lift it up and out, but the security it provided was worth it. Bent the pick on it last week (it needed replacement anyway - ancient MSR) and used a friend's 60-65ish. Really appreciated the longer reach it gave me when paired up w. my alpine axe to get through some more technical WI sections.
So, once again, its preference..
Do a search through Google on rec.climbing and you will find tons of info.

Would trust a whippet anytime. If you really need to self arrest, you'll want an real axe. I understand that sking w. an axe is a no go (folks have rigged them to their poles though), but luckily my tele skills don't surpass 35 or so degrees ;?)

FWIW, my axe is like my best friend and I looked long and hard to find a replacement. Didn't like anything available domestically (especially that ferrule on the Air Tech! What were they thinking!).
Ended up getting one from Scotland.

Good luck.
Cheers,
Christian :?)
"5'9" 65cm"

9:51 a.m. on June 13, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Here is one for the mix

I have rarely taken anything longer than a 55cm axe on anything in the last five years.

I dont really use them as a walking stick, I use them for self arrest. The only time I am plunging it is when it gets above 50deg, and even then it is more for balance. It is lighter and stows out of the way easier. Otherwise I have the poles out on lower angle terrain.

If you aren't on glaciers, as much of the climbing in the lower 48 is, this is my rig. Light is right. Might want the longer tool for snow slogs, but then you might as well go light weight skipoles with a whip-et.

2 pesos with alot of change left over.

matt s

10:22 a.m. on June 13, 2001 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
409 forum posts
Re: Air Tech

Quote:

What were you referring to on the Air Tech Axe? I've been considering this axe?

I think so. I have one in 53cm. Favorite light axe (I also have a Kong with the aluminum head that is perhaps only pratical for use on snow...but...I did downclimb a 50 degree section of real hard ice with one...not good!).

The bottom spike on the Air Tech Racing axe is a tube cut off at an angle. These tend to suck up loose snow and get packed out. But...the head/shaft combo is the best going for light weight and still able to do some real ice climbing. Mine seems pretty durable. I'd buy another! Even with the poor bottom spike design.

Quote:

Quote:

Would trust a whippet anytime. If you really need to self arrest, you'll want an real axe. I understand that sking w. an axe is a no go (folks have rigged them to their poles though), but luckily my tele skills don't surpass 35 or so degrees ;?)

I'm thinking C meant that he wouldn't trust a whippet. I would. But...I wouldn't dally gettin' the pick in if need be either. Great tool. Summitted Denali with mine....and the air tech grivel 53cm ice axe! I know folk have climbed WI 3 with nuttin' but whippets but that ain't a good idear either...

Quote:

Quote:

FWIW, my axe is like my best friend and I looked long and hard to find a replacement. Didn't like anything available domestically (especially that ferrule on the Air Tech! What were they thinking!).

Mine is an old Zero...but...wish I had an old Zero Axe or C-F in wood shaft, then I could rest...maybe!

Brian in SLC

12:58 p.m. on June 13, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

I've done some figuring. I have three sources that I will refer to in the calcs below:

Two sources posted in this thread state a body height of 5'9", and both use a 65cm axe. Another source, not posted here, states that at 5'11", a 70cm axe would be best. This makes sense because at 2.54cm to an inch, the difference of 2" from 5'9" to 5'11" would equal 5cm difference; hence the suggestion to go from 65cm to 70cm. I have stated that I measure, from palm to floor, about 83cm. I have also stated that multiple sources state a standard length axe should be about the distance from palm to floor. I am 6'1" tall, which is 2" taller even than the source stated above at 5'11". The suggestion for 5'11" is 70cm, therefore, with me being another 2" taller, my "ideal" axe length should be about 5cm longer, or 75cm total. So, I have ordered a 75cm axe from REI. Hope it fits properly; guess I can always exchange it for a 70cm, if needed. I seriously doubt that I would need to go to an 80cm? Who approves of my research, and who doesn't? For those of you who don't approve, please provide substantial reasons why so that I may justify the possible need for getting a shorter axe. Finally, thanks to everyone for all the info on this subject!

 

Quote:

I've heard a lot of different stories on how to properly determine the correct length of an ice axe. So what's the best way to tell? The most common method of measuring that I've heard is to measure the distance from your palm to the floor, with your arm/hand hanging down to your side. Is this an accurate measurement? I've done this, and from the middle of my palm to the floor is about 83 centimeters. So, what size axe would be best for a measurement such as this? Freedom of the Hills states that an axe in the range of 60-70 centimeters is considered an "all-purpose" size. What do you think? My main usage plans for the axe will be basic snow travel on moderate mtns, such as in the Pacific Northwest. Please help me out with some suggestions on this subject.....

1:57 p.m. on June 13, 2001 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
409 forum posts
Depends on hikin' or climbin'...

Quote:

So, I have ordered a 75cm axe from REI. Hope it fits properly; guess I can always exchange it for a 70cm, if needed. I seriously doubt that I would need to go to an 80cm? Who approves of my research, and who doesn't? For those of you who don't approve, please provide substantial reasons why so that I may justify the possible need for getting a shorter axe.

Really depends on what you want to do. If hikin' with an axe, get one that you can use as a ski pole but still self arrest. Will look good over the mantle too!

If you do any technical climbing at all, you might find it a tad too long. But...folks make do.

I don't hike with ski poles on uneven terrain (although, as I get older and my knees weaker, maybe I should!). But...some folks just love 'em. If that's you, then a full length ice axe for hikin' routes might be perfect.

For me, the 50cm length will do it all.

Personal choice.

Brian in SLC

2:41 p.m. on June 13, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Re: Air Tech

Quote:

Quote:

What were you referring to on the Air Tech Axe? I've been considering this axe?

I think so. I have one in 53cm. Favorite light axe (I also have a Kong with the aluminum head that is perhaps only pratical for use on snow...but...I did downclimb a 50 degree section of real hard ice with one...not good!).


Quote:

The bottom spike on the Air Tech Racing axe is a tube cut off at an angle. These tend to suck up loose snow and get packed out. But...the head/shaft combo is the best going for light weight and still able to do some real ice climbing. Mine seems pretty durable. I'd buy another! Even with the poor bottom spike design.

Even more scary would be trying to get any purchase in alpine ice with the hollow tube - give me a point please!

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

Would trust a whippet anytime. If you really need to self arrest, you'll want an real axe. I understand that sking w. an axe is a no go (folks have rigged them to their poles though), but luckily my tele skills don't surpass 35 or so degrees ;?)

I'm thinking C meant that he wouldn't trust a whippet. I would. But...I wouldn't dally gettin' the pick in if need be either. Great tool. Summitted Denali with mine....and the air tech grivel 53cm ice axe! I know folk have climbed WI 3 with nuttin' but whippets but that ain't a good idear either...

Yep, that's what I meant. Croft soloed Astroman too ;?)

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

FWIW, my axe is like my best friend and I looked long and hard to find a replacement. Didn't like anything available domestically (especially that ferrule on the Air Tech! What were they thinking!).

Mine is an old Zero...but...wish I had an old Zero Axe or C-F in wood shaft, then I could rest...maybe!

If you like the head on yer Air Tech, you can get a really nice wooden shaft one that they make...saaaweet!

Quote:

Brian in SLC

Cheers,
Christian :?)

6:07 p.m. on June 13, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

a.k.a. Bob Brainard

In general your thinking seems logical, however, from an Ergonomic perspective realize the intended usage will play a major roll as has already been discussed. From an anthropometric perspective, realize that body types differ (a 6' 1" man does not necessarily have proportionately longer arms over 5' 11" or 5' 9" man).

That being said, I would try to seek out in-person experienced climbers, or a local specialty shop for this first purchase.

6:33 p.m. on June 13, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Quote:

In general your thinking seems logical, however, from an Ergonomic perspective realize the intended usage will play a major roll as has already been discussed. From an anthropometric perspective, realize that body types differ (a 6' 1" man does not necessarily have proportionately longer arms over 5' 11" or 5' 9" man).

That being said, I would try to seek out in-person experienced climbers, or a local specialty shop for this first purchase.

Or to put it simply:
Try different axe lengths on different slope angles.
Apes vary.
Cosmologically of course,
Christian ;?)

7:10 p.m. on June 13, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Good suggestions to try different ax lengths on different slopes, but only if you have luxury to do so via multiple friends living in the immediate area, and all with varying lengths of ax's. I have used two different lengths in the past. One was a 60cm, or there about, which I thought was too short. The other I cannot remember for certain, but I think was either a 70cm, or a 75cm. What ever it was, it felt better than the shorter 60cm. Both were borrowed, and I never had to use either one anyway, so it really didn't make difference as a whole. However, getting back to the subject of trying different lengths.......I can do this, if I don't mind renting varying lengths of ax's over a period of time. I did kinda think about doing this, but then thought: "Why waste $$$ renting ax's multiple times, when, after renting that many times, I could have just bought my own for the $$$ shelled-out on the renting fees?! For the price it would cost me to rent an ax three times in the vicinity of where I live, I could just buy my own instead!!! You know, like I have already stated, I have mail-ordered a 75cm ax from REI, but if I don't feel comfortable with it, I can always exchange it for a different size. The only thing that will cost me by having to do this is the shipping charges (that's not a big deal). So, I'll see what the 75cm feels like, and then go from there. Nevertheless, I must thank all of the persons who were kind and generous by replying to my questions on this subject as they did!!!!! It makes a big difference when you can gather multiple opinions on information you're seeking, and use such data to make a sound decision on a topic such as this. THANKS!

 

Quote:

Quote:

In general your thinking seems logical, however, from an Ergonomic perspective realize the intended usage will play a major roll as has already been discussed. From an anthropometric perspective, realize that body types differ (a 6' 1" man does not necessarily have proportionately longer arms over 5' 11" or 5' 9" man).

That being said, I would try to seek out in-person experienced climbers, or a local specialty shop for this first purchase.

Or to put it simply:
Try different axe lengths on different slope angles.
Apes vary.
Cosmologically of course,
Christian ;?)

8:39 p.m. on June 13, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Quote:

Good suggestions to try different ax lengths on different slopes, but only if you have luxury to do so via multiple friends living in the immediate area, and all with varying lengths of ax's. I have used two different lengths in the past. One was a 60cm, or there about, which I thought was too short. The other I cannot remember for certain, but I think was either a 70cm, or a 75cm. What ever it was, it felt better than the shorter 60cm. Both were borrowed, and I never had to use either one anyway, so it really didn't make difference as a whole. However, getting back to the subject of trying different lengths.......I can do this, if I don't mind renting varying lengths of ax's over a period of time. I did kinda think about doing this, but then thought: "Why waste $$$ renting ax's multiple times, when, after renting that many times, I could have just bought my own for the $$$ shelled-out on the renting fees?! For the price it would cost me to rent an ax three times in the vicinity of where I live, I could just buy my own instead!!! You know, like I have already stated, I have mail-ordered a 75cm ax from REI, but if I don't feel comfortable with it, I can always exchange it for a different size. The only thing that will cost me by having to do this is the shipping charges (that's not a big deal). So, I'll see what the 75cm feels like, and then go from there. Nevertheless, I must thank all of the persons who were kind and generous by replying to my questions on this subject as they did!!!!! It makes a big difference when you can gather multiple opinions on information you're seeking, and use such data to make a sound decision on a topic such as this. THANKS!


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

In general your thinking seems logical, however, from an Ergonomic perspective realize the intended usage will play a major roll as has already been discussed. From an anthropometric perspective, realize that body types differ (a 6' 1" man does not necessarily have proportionately longer arms over 5' 11" or 5' 9" man).

That being said, I would try to seek out in-person experienced climbers, or a local specialty shop for this first purchase.

Or to put it simply:
Try different axe lengths on different slope angles.
Apes vary.
Cosmologically of course,
Christian ;?)

Cheap solution:
Go to the store, grab an axe, start walking up the stairs.
Should give you a good aproximation of a typical slog.
Have fun, and I leave it to you to figure out whether to carry it w/ the pick facing forward or backward.
Gone fishin,
Christian :?)

3:42 p.m. on June 20, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

The ol' school standard...

The old school on this was to grasp the ax head in your hand and put the point toward the floor. If you can just touch the floor by just overextending your reach (still standing upright), you have an approximate length. I guess this was the reference to palm to floor distance. This length figures that you will be in some deep footprints and you don't want it draging. This gives handicapping points to gorillas with dragging knuckles.

The other measurement also depends on your size. This method gives handicapping points to gorillas with dragging knuckles. Place the tip at point where your right hip rotates - the ball of the hip. Place the intersection of the head and shaft at your left shoulder where it rotates. That is about the length you need. You want to be able to grab the shaft without it being too short and missing it. Any longer and during an arrest you might be screaming the high notes.

A person's height is not a good indicator. You are more worried about the length of the legs (uhh, how close you are to the ground) OR torso.

Steep slopes knock off 5-10cm That depends upon your center of gravity and how much you lean into a steep ascent. Its a real pain sinking and pulling out a 70cm shaft every other step.

For anchors the longer shaft wins my vote. Especially if I'm the one dangling. But not sure that 15-20cm (70 vs 50) would make that much difference.

April 20, 2019
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